For a while, it was just you and your computer. Then it was you, your computer, and a few other folks. Now, you are thinking your startup is ready for a full-fledged expansion.
Congratulations! Not many startup entrepreneurs make it to this stage, so you should consider yourself fortunate and fantastic as a business leader. However, a larger business has many more moving parts, which means you will need to be well-equipped with the right tools to steer your growing business to success. While this is by no means a comprehensive list of all the tools you’ll need as your startup expands, these will help you maintain order (and sanity) while you build a bigger business.
Growth shouldn’t happen spontaneously or chaotically. Whenever your startup expands, you should have planned it months in advance. To help you organize your strategic growth, you can turn to the Small Business Administration, which has compiled a helpful list of tips and tricks for gaining funding for your expansion, planning new markets and locations, merging, and more. Additionally, you should employ a few simple tools and techniques to assist in directing your growth, such as:
SWOT: Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats. This assessment tool should provide you with an honest picture of the state of your startup.
Boston Matrix: a product and service portfolio analysis tool. This will help you understand your offerings to determine how you should alter your strategy.
Affinity and interrelationship diagrams: Charts that organize growth information visually. These tools group like concepts and objects, helping you to prioritize projects and resolve issues.
The reason behind this tool should be relatively obvious: Without internal and external communication capabilities, your startup will disintegrate. However, prior to your initial expansion, you might have relied on less formal communication systems to build your business. For example, many startup entrepreneurs use their personal phone numbers and email addresses. As your startup grows, you will need more extensive and powerful communication tools, which means you need to contact a Cisco distribution partner.
Cisco is easily the biggest and best industry communications services provider in the world, capable of providing all sorts of solutions to your growing business. Thanks to Cisco OIP, you can rely on regional resellers to obtain the communications tools you need — phones, networks, etc. — to expand efficiently and effectively.
In the beginning, you might have been everything for your businesses, from the CEO to the grunt. As your startup grows, you must come to rely on others to accomplish essential tasks, which is a difficult transition for many entrepreneurs. However, it makes all the difference if you have a strong, trustworthy team, which means you must have foolproof recruitment networks.
Long before you initiate the hiring process, you will probably engage with freelancers and contract workers. For this, you can use services like Toptal, which efficiently matches clients and vetted developers and designers. When you are ready to take on long-term hires, you can continue to use Toptal, and your experience with the network will improve your likelihood of finding the talent you need and want. Then, you can delegate confidently while you focus on more important responsibilities, like further expansion.
Human resources — now more often known by the flashier title “people operations” — is exceedingly complex, encompasses a vast swath of business administration, and can be terribly expensive. For startups intending to grow, HR is a worrying prospect because it is indispensable; you can’t have employees without valuable services like payroll administration, training and development, and conflict resolution. However, you probably can’t afford an entire HR department at this stage of your startup.
Fortunately, there is a compromise: software and outsourcing. For the inhuman aspects of HR, you can rely on digital tools like Gusto, which manages payroll and benefits. For everything else, you can use a third-party HR services provider, like an ASO, HRO, or PEO.
Social Media Marketing
There is an unfortunate misconception that social media marketing is easy and cheap. In truth, effective social media management is time-consuming and tricky to master. Unless you want to hire a team of experienced (read: expensive) social media gurus, you can make the tedious task of social media management easier by relying on these essential tools:
- Buffer: scheduling and management tool. Rather than monitoring and posting in real-time, you can upload your posts for dozens of social sites and tell this program when to publish them.
- MeetEdgar: evergreen content tool. This service recognizes your most popular posts and shares them again at strategic intervals.
- Sprout Social: engagement tool. If you are struggling to monitor social media mentions, brand advocacy campaigns, and content strategies, this tool is invaluable.